Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Full Reaction to The Raven Boys

As you may know, I read this book a couple of weeks back so I talked a little about it before. There you'll find the usual way that I start my reactionary reviews, with my history with the book and how I went about starting it. I'm writing this post right after finishing it so it'll stay true to my reactionary review format.

Let me start by saying. Wow.

And continue by saying that if Maggie Stiefvater and Cate Tiernan had a book baby it would look a lot like The Raven Boys. Which I know doesn't make a lot of sense since Maggie Stiefvater did write The Raven Boys. But it's everything I absolutely love about Maggie Stiefvater but with something so Cate Tiernan like about it. That is not a bad thing.

There is always something so other about Maggie Stiefvater's books. None of them are ever like anything that I've ever read before. I've come to realize that though I've said different books at different times that I can't pick a favorite because they all strike such different chords with me. They reach for different emotions and pieces of me that my favorite tends to very. Though The Raven Boys might come dangerously close to being a favorite. It's also very other.

There's something about this book that begs to be savored. I found myself wanting to read it slower, and not just because I didn't want it to end. It deserved to be read slowly. Each idea lingers in your head until you have to stop a second and consider it, but not in a distracting way. It definitely makes you think. About the search for Glendower. What it means to each of the characters. How this search is going to alter everyone involved.

I like Blue, a lot. She's very aware of what she is, even as she finds out there might be a little more to her than anyone thought. She so easily gets caught up in things and often against her better judgement. Her hesitance and dislike of the raven boys fades very naturally through the course of the novel. It's never completely gone though, and that makes it all the more realistic. She's so fiesty.

Now Adam. I have mixed feelings about Adam and that's largely because I'm not sure what she's going to do with him. I don't mean this in a bad way. But there are so many potential directions for his character. I loved him at first. He was is well created and has this firm moral standing. He knows what he wants and that he wants to be the one to get it for himself. His issues at home are so heartbreakingly rendered and how he reacts to them come across so naturally. He's steady and I sort of love the way he reacts to Blue. I love the little things about him that Blue points out and likes too.

And Gansey. I absolutely adore Gansey. He reminds me a little of Will from the Infernal Devices but (I might be disowned or flogged for this) I like him more. He's more well rounded and natural. As much as he's traveled and explored and seen so much of the world, he's so naive about somethings. His struggle to understand how people react to his words is, oddly, one of my favorite things about him. He legitimately doesn't understand why what he says is taken so wrong but he is so painfully conscious of his words. Maggie Stiefvater makes him so faceted. Seeing the different sides of him was a delight. Gansey is so driven and determined to succeed and just because he has to, not for any particular personal gain. I love his passion and how willing he is to share it.

I think all of the raven boys deserve some words so next is Ronan. I feel oddly drawn to him, a lot like Blue is. I want him to approve of Blue. I want things to be okay for him. But he's still a total enigma. And way to throw us a curve ball at the end there! He is also sharply aware of his words but, is the opposite of Gansey, and knows exactly how they're going to land.

Noah. I have a strange affection for Noah. I'm not entirely sure what it is. I had a strange love for him before we learned about his...condition. Which I didn't really see coming. I missed all the signs of that one. He is quiet but worth listening to. I was really afraid they weren't going to get him back for a few pages. But there's something so sadly horrifying about him and learning what the smudge is.

I love the interactions between the guys. They're such guys! I think it's really hard for a woman to write from a guy's perspective or about then extensively, even and the convincing ones I've read are rather few between. They always end up a little romanticized. But this was so well done. The ridiculous things they do. The fights that are heated and rough but brushed off later (especially with Adam and Ronan). It was delightful to read.

I loved the parallels in the groups of people in Blue's life. She toggles back and forth between the women she lives with and the raven boys. You have the leaders of each, looking for something in the ley lines, Maura and Gansey. You have the harsh, snark driven one with more power than anticipated, Calla and Ronan. Then the pale, quiet, but listened to when speaking one whose not all there, Persephone and Noah. And last, the more practical one, that strikes out on their own, and ultimately seizes power on their own, Neeve and Adam. The last one lines up the least. Initially I had mentally compared Blue to Adam but changed my mind later.

 The psychics are great. I think Blue's home life is just fantastic. It paints a nice backdrop for setting Blue out as a bit of an outsider no matter where she is. But the relationships between the psychics and how the handle Blue's interaction with the raven boys. Neeve's sinister presence is the most Cate Tiernan feeling this about the book, I think. And I'm interested to see what she's up to and where she is. Calla is wonderful in her no nonsense and snark. Persephone is a bigger part to play, I can tell. I love Maura's not-mom-momness. She's so a mom but without being a typical mom. They have a great interaction and relationship.

The narration switch is wonderful. It came so fluidly. That instead of going a little uncertainly into each chapter, worried that I would struggle to keep up with who it was following, I charged into it. I flipped pages excited to see who I'd be following. Which characters I got to see from someone elses perspective.

The romantic relationships in the book were fantastic. They had a sort of newness to them, an innocence. They are there but they aren't all consuming. I feel like they'll come more into play later but they weren't important to this book so they weren't included. It was actually perfect the way they fit in. I am really intrigued to see where the Blue and Adam relationship goes especially in terms of setting up a Blue and Gansey one.

Maggie Stiefvater manages to stuff as much mythology into this book without it being overwhelming. Even things that the characters already understand aren't left vague but they aren't info dropped either. They end up seeming very natural. I didn't question anything and actually ended up looking up the Uffington Horse and the Nazca lines and then other things related. It's fascinating and I've decided that no one can suck you into obscure landmarks like Maggie Stiefvater.

Nothing is as it seems initially and I am interested to see how some thing come back into play. Ashley, for one, who was easy to forget about later as so much happened, obviously has more to do. More about Ronan's father, Gansey's mother, Blue's father. There is so much more to find out.

Throughout the whole book is the terrible feeling of inevitability. Blue's fate, the visions, the spirits, Ronan's volatility. It's the sort of anticipating the inevitable that makes your chest constrict and hurt to think about. Big things are going to happen and Blue has already been warned that not everyone is going to make it.

I am so looking forward to the rest of The Raven Cycle. It's starting off so wonderfully and I know Maggie Steifvater will stay true to the story that she's telling. I am itching to see where that goes. The only bad thing about The Raven Boys is having to wait for the next one.

Obvious Rating: Beyond Epic.

I recently took Alma Katsu's The Taker from the library so that will be next. That is if I can resist the urge to reread The Raven Boys.

Until next time, ducks.


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